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Data Governance and Artificial Intelligence

By By Dorcas Ng’ang’a

As day one of KESIG was coming to a conclusion, we pondered on the issue of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and policy concerns. In anticipation of KIGF, several questions were posed to us on data governance. In this article I deliberate on the challenge of ensuring the benefits of the data revolution to contribute to inclusive economic development. Drawing from my interest in AI systems, I will look at the issue in relation to it.

AI systems feed on data. They are trained to analyze and process data to come up with an output that mimics human intelligence. The data revolution has brought to life an era where large data can be processed at the speed of light by AI Systems. The outputs by these systems have an input on our country’s economy. For example, In the agriculture sector, AI is being used to identify crop diseases, monitor soil and weather conditions1.  Applications such as Eska is being used by Kenyan farmers to detect crop diseases and deficiencies in soils. The user takes a picture of the crop using their smartphones and the screen displays the resulting diagnostic2. Early detection leads to prevention measures that then lead to an increased crop harvest.

Data revolution should ensure that the global economy, local market and subsistence economy are included in the development system. The subsistence economy and local market are affected by the laws, regulation and policies in place within the country. Companies with large data that could assist in training AI systems in Kenya will be
reluctant to share such data with local actors in the absence of a legal framework that protects their data. While appreciating the fact that we have laws in place that touch on data privacy and protection, the laws are not comprehensive enough to cover all aspects of AI. The legal framework poses a challenge in ensuring the benefits of data revolution related to AI contribute to inclusive economic development in Kenya.

1. John Walubengo, ‘ Artificial Intelligence is the answer to Kenya’s food insecurity’ Daily Nation (12 th March 2019)
https://www.nation.co.ke/oped/blogs/dot9/walubengo/2274560-5020458-11lg0ey/index.html accessed 8 th July
2019
2. Adil El Yooussefi, ‘ Artificial Intelligence Revolutionising Agriculture’ Nairobi Garage ( May 11 2018)
https://nairobigarage.com/artificial-intelligence-is-revolutionising-agriculture/ accessed 8 th July 2019

Dorcas W Ng’ang’a is a 4th year student at University of Nairobi school of law. She is also a legal intern at Kilonzo and Company advocates. She is currently doing an Externship with KICTAnet and she is the lead rapporteur at KeSIG 2019.
Mwendwa Kivuva information

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